i recently read a book by a young woman who became a christian (she had already converted to orthodox judaism prior to that), while a person's journey through change is interesting, what really intrigued me was her struggle with lent; she gave up reading. it seems an odd choice when there are so many "dirtier" or more unhealthy vices to abstain from, but reading was something that was integral to her daily life and functioning. and she struggled, this was what she did when she got home from work, on the weekends, in the evenings, and commuting to and from work. not having access to her books, she realized how much time she chose to isolate from others.
from a young age i have read voraciously. i constantly heard "bookworm", "oh, there she is with her nose in a book again", not comments of derision- what grown adult discourages a child from reading? except...when she sneaks books out to "nice" restaurants to read under the table cloth, and yes, even into the shower. from my work in mental health i have become familiar with diagnosing a variety of disorders, and they only qualify as such if they meet specific criteria; for example, if a behaviour significantly impairs functioning in multiple categories including social, emotional and occupational.
reading is not a habit that destroys your internal organs, make you unable to operate heavy machinery or be at risk for contracting diseases, however it has historically been symptomatic of my introversion. it has caused frustration in my relationships (family and other) when i have picked up a book rather than engaged in conversation. nothing dissuades chit chat more than a lack of eye contact and the crown of someone's head peering into a book. i know many in my peer group who knit for relaxation, but despite my initial thoughts on this new wave of the knitting clique, i have to acknowledge that it does still allow for social multi tasking in a way that mine doesn't.
yes, reading can expand your perceptions, general knowledge, develop empathy for others and even improve your spelling. however, i also recognize that as the little tower of books next to my bed gets lower as i finish another one i begin to experience significant anxiety, not disimilar to my own version of detox. this is when you will find me rushing out to borders in search of more; fortunately for me, my drug of choice is socially condoned.